A.J. Hinch is the model for a manager in the new age of baseball, with his unique combination of leadership skills, intelligence, and experience both on the field and in the front office. This ideal, diverse blend of skills paid off for the Houston Astros in 2017 as A.J. led the team to its first World Series championship.
After a standout high school career in Midwest City, Okla., A.J. enrolled at Stanford, where he was a 1996 Olympian, two-time Pac-10 Player of the Year and three-time All-America catcher. A.J. also earned a B.S in Psychology and in 2014 was inducted into the Stanford University Athletics Hall of Fame.
His seven-year Major League career included stops in Oakland, Kansas City, Detroit and Philadelphia. After that he joined the front office in the Arizona Diamondbacks, and during the 2009 season the D-Backs moved him into the dugout to manage the team.
A.J. left Arizona in 2010 for the San Diego Padres’ front office, eventually becoming Vice President and Assistant General Manager.
Houston hired A.J. after the 2014 season, and in 2015 he managed the Astros to a 16-game improvement and their first playoff appearance in 10 years. He succeeded in part by distilling data from an analytics-oriented front office to information he and players could use.
In 2017, Houston won 101 games and the AL West division title. The Astros won a seven-game AL Championship Series over the Yankees and then a seven-game World Series against the Dodgers. All along, Hinch’s creative decision-making drew rave reviews.
“A.J.’s been great, not just this year but since he’s been hired,” Astros Hall of Famer Craig Biggio told mlb.com. “A.J. and the staff are incredible. It’s one thing to game manage, but you also have to manage personalities, you have to manage a lot of different stuff, and he does an incredible job and I can’t think of a better guy to have at the helm than A.J. Hinch.”